From an early age, our hair becomes a canvas for expressing our identity. We braid it, bleach it, blast it with heat and drench it with chemicals. We lament that it’s too curly or too flat, and hope that by tweaking this very conspicuous part of our appearance we’ll be able to experience the world in a new way. Roxie Darling, an intuitive hair colorist, has built a career around helping clients transform their exteriors to fit their interiors using the power of pigment. Here, we delve into her world of intuitive transformations and the therapeutic, healing effects of color.
Culture Trip: Tell me about your personal relationship with color …
Roxy Darling: I have been a hair colorist since the age of 16, and color is like my language; it’s the way I speak to and receive the world. I communicate using color through my hair and through adornment—the clothes and accessories I wear.
Color is an opportunity for people to express themselves and alter their emotional state. It’s a natural means of stimulation. I’m really in awe of natural beauty and color all the time because it changes our mood so much and I don’t think people pay attention to that. My life’s work is to teach people about how color is affecting them and can change their lives.
CT: What is The Spectrum Experiment?
RD: I’m a hair colorist and painter, and The Spectrum Experiment is the name of my studio, where I work with people to explore the spectrum. I’m working on the Manifest Your Aura Project—an experience where the seeker is invited to make an active color-driven decision about their auric field and their energetic body.
Some people feel so frickin’ strongly about certain colors. Orange, green and yellow are three hues people commonly don’t like, especially in NYC where everybody wears black. It’s one thing if you have an aversion through trauma, but if you have an aversion for no reason it’s probably an area in your life you should explore. The things that make us feel uncomfortable are places we can find growth and expansion.
CT: What exactly is an aura?
RD: Your aura is the energetic field around your physical body. And your mood—how you’re feeling, what you’re experiencing—all these things manifest as your energetic body, and color comes into play because each one has a different vibration which we can use as a tool to change our own energetic vibrations.
CT: I’ve heard you described as an intuitive hair colorist. Tell me what that means to you?
RD: It’s going beyond the purely physical, aesthetically driven choices of your color, and using it as a balancing act instead. In the same way color stimulates and manipulates our emotional state, shades of light and dark do too. For the client, that means being really honest about how they’re feeling in their life and making an intentional hair color decision to engage with that. It’s less about what you want to look like and more about how you feel, because if you feel great you usually look great. The reverse is rarely true.
CT: Hair is a crucial part of our identities, so many of us can be a bit precious or particular about it. How do you manage people’s expectations while bringing their vision to life?
RD: I ask them what their expectations are and I’m really honest. I also need them to trust the process and if they don’t I’m not going to work on them. As an intuitive healer I know that 100% of the healing happens because the client wants to change.
If you visit my studio you’re making a conscious decision to change your energetic and auric field. For me it’s not about expectations because that’s the future—it’s about the present and what is holding us back when we want to make a change. Usually, if somebody doesn’t want to proceed with something they’re afraid. Fear is a really interesting place to explore when we are making energetic changes.
CT: Do you ever decline to do a certain color on somebody, or dissuade them from that choice? Like if somebody came in wanting blue and you felt like that was a bad look for them?
RD: Yes. It’s about getting down to “why blue?” Maybe they’re drawn to that shade because they want to express themselves—because blue is a great color for artistic expression—but it might not be right for their skin tone or hair texture. Maybe the person’s hair doesn’t need to be blue and they can adorn themselves with blue instead—a blue watch or piece of jewelry.
Sometimes a drastic change is really about distractions and avoiding looking at our true selves. I tend to talk with clients and ask “what is going on in your life that makes you want to escape into this color?” When I know it’s going to facilitate their human experience to be better, then I can get on board.
CT: Are there any similarities in the life stages of people coming to you for a dramatic change?
RD: Yes. People come when they are experiencing emotional transformation. I think that when we experience emotional changes—be it a breakup, a death, a health diagnosis, or a big move—we look in the mirror and our visual doesn’t match how we’re feeling, so we do everything we can we try to balance it.
If we’re feeling crazy we might want to look calmer in order to mimic that serenity. Or maybe we feel crazy and need a bright orange to let people know just how crazy we’re feeling. We want our outer to match our inner.
CT: Has it been interesting to see these bright hues become much more mainstream and sought-after?
RD: It’s been amazing to see. I’ll never forget when the colored hair trend first started popping up in 2010. I saw a group of three friends in the grocery store and they all had multicolored hair, and I felt so honored to part of this movement of self-expression. People have more space to self-express and that is a beautiful thing.
CT: Over the course of your career, what have you learned about the human connection to color?
RD: I’ve learned that, for me, it’s my life’s work and mission to open up that conversation more for people. Color is so important and not enough people are aware of how powerful it can be when they use it as medicine.